The Graduating Class – Last Tuesday Society

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When the hypothesis behind an artistic endeavor is ‘this is an experiment’ – from the premise through to the audience’s response – you know you’re in for something special, and that’s exactly what the Last Tuesday Society, formed three years ago by Bron Batten and Richard Higgins (pictured) tries to deliver every time it hits the stage.

As Higgins remarks over strong coffee a week out from the Melbourne International Comedy Festival ‘bombing is a part of the experiment’. So when you take into account failure as part of the final product, what is it these ramshackle gangs of talented artists from around Melbourne are trying to do, and how did it all come about?

It formed on the streets of Melbourne, quite literally. ‘I was walking along the street when someone running a space above the Old Bar asked me if I wanted to MC a fundraiser (Higgins went on to do so as Slavojzizek the Slovenian philosopher). I got Bron in and that was pretty much that.’ This space would lay the foundations for future work from The Suitcase Royale, Poet Laureate Telia Nevile and where The List Operators would establish themselves as a must-see Barry nominated act around Melbourne.

With a cavalcade of artists such as Nick Sun, Sam Simmons, David O’Doherty, The Sisters Grimm, The Caravan of Love (whose night Kunst ist Scheisse, started by Eva Johansen, helped inspire the format and feel LTS would later take). As well as acts like Dr. Brown and even Josh Thomas treading their boards it’s easy to see why whatever this experiment comes up with is now met with a degree of expectation.

Which leads me to their latest project, Pimp My Play launched at Brunswick art space 26A. The idea is to take a well known play, offer scenes to various local theatre companies, ask them to come up with their own interpretation and see if it works. Their first pick was Nick Enright’s Black Rock. Such a great pop culture choice that for a moment one might be forgiven for forgetting its main issues are rape, violence and small town isolation.

‘Yeah, we had an act pull out just before because they were comedians and didn’t want to be seen to be taking the piss (sic).’ Said co-founder Batten. It was that action that saw Batten take to the stage and remind everyone the meaning and more importantly the power of satire, and the challenge that comes with pushing artists out of their comfort zone, creating new and exciting works even out of controversy.  Amidst all the satirists that night the piece that stood out was an inspired dramatic retelling by Telia Nevile, which reminded the audience that even in a room full of laughs there is a moment for tears.

And so that’s what the Last Tuesday Society do. They provide a space, a stage and an opportunity for artists to just be artists with little expectation but with a whole lot of support.

Where can you see them next? Well, most of their alumni can be seen at the MICF. You can see these  stage tredders:

The List Operators
Claudia O’Doherty
Eva Johansen
Telia Nevile
Zoe Coombs Marr
David O’Doherty
Dr Brown
The Hermitude of Agnus Ecstatic
Sam Simmons
And Josh Thomas

Here: www.comedyfestival.com.au.
For more info on LTS visit http://lasttuesdaysociety.com.

Lou Sanz is a comedy screenwriter, sometime comedian and producer.

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